Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/179

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English territory, burned, sacked, pillaged, and hastened back to their own ground. To guard against these incursions was not easy; for the peasantry of the plundered country had a strong fellow feeling with the plunderers. To empty the granary, to set fire to the dwelling, to drive away the cows, of a heretic was regarded by every squalid inhabitant of a mud cabin as a good work. A troop engaged in such a work might confidently expect to fall in, notwithstanding all the proclamations of the Lords Justices, with some friend who would indicate the richest booty, the shortest road, and the safest hiding place. The English complained that it was no easy matter to catch a Rapparee. Sometimes, when he saw danger approaching, he lay down in the long grass of the bog; and then it was as difficult to find him as to find a hare sitting. Sometimes he sprang into a stream, and lay there, like an otter, with only his mouth and nostrils above the water. Nay, a whole gang of banditti would, in the twinkling of an eye, transform itself into a crowd of harmless labourers. Every man took his gun to pieces, hid the lock in his clothes, stuck a cork in the muzzle, stopped the touch hole with a quill, and threw the weapon into the next pond. Nothing was to be seen but a train of poor rustics who had not so much as a cudgel among them, and whose humble look and crouching walk seemed to show that their spirit was thoroughly broken to slavery. When the peril was over, when the signal was given, every man flew to the place where he had hid his arms; and soon the robbers were in full march towards some Protestant mansion. One band penetrated to Clonmel, another to the vicinity of Maryborough; a third made its den in a woody islet of firm ground, surrounded by the vast bog of Allen, harried the county of Wicklow, and alarmed even the suburbs of Dublin. Such expeditions indeed were not always successful. Sometimes the plunderers fell in with parties of militia or with detachments from the English garrisons, in situations in which disguise, flight and resistance were alike impossible. When this happened every kerne who was taken was hanged, without any ceremony, on the nearest tree.[1]

  1. Story's Impartial History and Continuation and the London Gazettes of December, January, February, and March 1690/1.